As a leader in the office, the health and welfare of your fellow workers and employees often falls under the umbrella of your responsibility. And this is definitely true when it comes to stocking the break room fridge and cupboards with healthy snacks.
It may be tempting to supply your team with snacks that are first and foremost tasty — candies, chips, and other goodies. It sounds good, after all, because you might think it will make your employees like you more or like their jobs more.
But these aren’t actually the foods you should be providing. In fact, unhealthy snacks can have adverse effects on health, mood, and energy levels in the workplace. Furthermore, even if ditching the junk food options does rankle a few employees, it’s much more important for you to place priority on the welfare of your employees. Don’t fall into the trap of purchasing non-nutritious snacks for your office in order to please people. Their enjoyment will be short-lived, but the adverse effects will be sadly long-lasting.
Choosing wholesome, nutritious snacks for the office is a smart decision. Fortunately, there are a number of healthy snacks out there that are also great-tasting and simple to stock.
What Makes Something a Good Healthy Snack
Before diving into the specific healthy snacks we recommend for your workplace, let’s explore why some snacks make the cut and others don’t. Optimal snacks for the office have these qualities:
- They aren’t processed and don’t contain large amounts of sugar: While eating a sugary candy bar may give you an immediate flood of energy, the dreaded “sugar crash” won’t be far behind. Sugar is an example of a fast-release carb, or simple carb. These raise blood glucose levels quickly but peter out just as fast, leaving you tired and sluggish.
- They pack a lot of protein and/or dietary fiber: Unlike sugar, protein and fiber are slow-release energy sources. They’ll keep you fuller for longer and give you long-term energy.
- They aren’t messy: Employees don’t want to be cleaning crud out of their keyboards and licking peanut butter off their fingers. So, keep healthy snacks simple and edible without the need for a massive cleanup. Many of the best snacks you might eat at home are super healthy — but need to be put together, blended, or otherwise assembled. And that can get messy, so it’s not ideal for office settings.
- They come prepackaged in individual portions: In general, individually portioned foods are easier to handle, stock, and clean up. Additionally, with large, shareable containers, you may have people “double-dipping,” which can lead to the spread of germs (or may simply be unappetizing to some). Furthermore, if someone forgets to close the cracker box or put the dip back in the fridge, the whole container could go bad. Of course, it all depends on your office space. If everyone can agree to be responsible, then purchasing larger items (e.g. big containers of berries, large bags of granola, etc.) to share in the break room could work fine.
- The have a long-ish shelf life: As the stocker of your break room, you probably want to replenish supplies once every one or two weeks — not once every few days. Therefore, make sure to check sell-by dates on all the snacks you purchase. Look for items that will last at least a few weeks before they go bad.
6 Easy and Healthy Snacks to Stock in the Break Room
Now that we’ve covered optimal features of the perfect, healthy office snack, let’s get to specifics. All the following office snacks feature the factors listed above:
Fruits are one of the best office snacks because they come pre-portioned. Bananas, oranges, and grapefruits even have their own “protective containers.” Other fruits like apples, peaches, and pears are grab-and-go, and all fruits are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Despite having high sugar contents, the equally high amounts of dietary fiber in fruit will cancel out most of the ill-effects of the sugar.
2. Cottage Cheese
It’s best to steer clear of most types of cheese, but cottage cheese can be the exception for those of your employees who tolerate dairy well. Due to its protein content, cottage cheese will fill you up and keep you feeling energized. Breakstone’s makes several single portion options to stock your fridge with.
3. Nuts, Seeds, and Trail Mix
Nuts are great at keeping you full. Just a small handful and your hunger should be satiated. The high amount of fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids in nuts is also great for your health. Nuts contain healthy fats (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated), which particularly promote heart health.
You might also consider trail mixes that include a little bonus of dark chocolate or dried fruit. Companies like Orchard Valley Harvest make little packs of trail mix and other nutty combinations that are perfect for offices. These last a long time and are easy to store or take with you on-the-go.
4. Oatmeal Packets
On a cold winter day, your employees might be craving a snack that warms them up. Oatmeal is a great way to go, and oatmeal packets can easily be stored and cooked in the office microwave. Not only does oatmeal pack a lot of soluble fiber, which is excellent for many aspects of your health, but it’s also full of protein and omega-3s. Still, not all oatmeal is the same, and many instant packs have way too much sugar. To be on the safe side, go for a brand like Nature’s Path. Their variety box is all organic and has numerous flavor options.
5. Veggies and Pre-Packaged Dips
You knew we wouldn’t forget about veggies. Even though they’re slightly higher-maintenance (because you generally either have to cut them yourself or purchase them pre-cut at a higher price point and because they don’t last as long as the other snacks), they’re still a must for a healthy office.
The best veggies to have on hand are those like cherry tomatoes, baby carrots, small English cucumbers, and radishes. Alongside these, you can also purchase small hummus or nut butter dip cups for a complete snack with lots of vitamins and minerals.
Greek yogurt, especially, has a high amount of protein, vitamin D, and calcium — all of which are excellent for bone and joint health. Yogurt can also be good at reducing high blood pressure and keeping your digestion on track because of its probiotics.
When employees are craving something sweet, yogurt is a great fix. And if you’ve got whole-grain and sugar-free (and maybe even gluten-free) granola and fruit on hand as well (bananas and berries are perfect), you have a powerful and healthy snack for any time. As a caveat, make sure to check your yogurt ingredients. Some yogurts contain way too much sugar and other junk ingredients, so as a general rule it’s better to opt for the unflavored varieties.
Oh, and as a second caveat: watch your portion sizes. Yogurt, fruit, and granola are all things that are easy to get carried away with, and while they are nutritious, they can also be high in calories. Pre-portioned yogurt cups help with this, but if you want to create less waste, maybe invest in ramekins or other small bowls to help your team not overindulge.
It’s Not Just About the Snacks
Above are some of the most simple and healthy snacks for any office workplace. They’re accessible at most any grocery store, and as long as you have a fridge in the break room, all of them should work for any environment. (And while you’re at it, don’t forget to stock some healthy beverages, too.)
Being the leader in your office is a critical role, and it’s important to remember that part of that role includes optimizing the health and welfare of your employees — and food has a lot to do with this. By purchasing and stocking simple, healthy snacks for your staff and co-workers, you’re showing them how much you care for their health and personal well-being. And they’ll appreciate that.